Monday, June 11, 2018

Poster Workshop 1968-71: North Peckham strike and Catford reggae festival

The Poster Workshop was a radical screenprinting project 'set up in a basement at 61 Camden Road, Camden Town, London N1, in the summer of 1968. It was carried along on the wave of rebellion sweeping the world at that time, and was inspired in part by the Atelier Populaire which had resulted from the occupation of the Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris, in May ‘68'. It continued until 1971 by which time more than 200 posters had been produced for and with groups including: 'GLC (Greater London Council) tenants’ associations, protesting against steep rent rises; striking workers at the Dagenham Ford plant; Anti-Apartheid groups; Civil Rights, freedom and liberation movements from all over the world; anti Vietnam War groups; Black Power movements; California Farm Workers Union; the GLC fire brigade; CND (the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament); International Socialists (now Socialist Worker); Young Communists; radical film and theatre companies; Situationists, King Mob, and many different student organisations' (see history here).

A selection of the posters are featured in the current London 1968 exhibition at Tate Britain, and all can be browsed online. For the purposes of this website I was interested to see if there was any South London content in the overall archive - not too much as you might expect for a Camden-based project, but a few windows into the past.

There are two posters that seem to relate to a strike at a Bovis construction site in Peckham - I believe this must have been during the building of the North Peckham Estate for which Bovis were the building contractor (see Municipal Dreams),

It appears that the basis of the dispute was a demand for some kind of productivity bonus payment scheme which the strikers obviously believed Bovis could well afford to pay!

On a different tack there was a poster for a reggae festival at Catford Coop Hall (22 Brownhill Road SE6). Think this must have been on Easter Monday 1969, as that's the only time during period Print Workshop was open that April 7th fell on a non-working day - and it was all day festival. Artists included Steve and the Succession and 'Count Neville Musical Enchanter'. I believe Count Neville ran a Bristol-based sound system in this era.

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